March 17, 2010

ICS Japan 2010: predeparture briefing

Note: This is the first of many posts to come about my ICS (In Country Study). From here on this blog will be taking a bit of a turning point with it's focus being more directed at my time away in Japan than my photography so this is a pretty big stepping stone for me.

A couple of days ago I had my final meeting about my ICS and boy was it a smack in the face with reality. Over the past few months I've been preparing myself mentally for this trip to Japan and only during the meeting did reality hit me and I realized that I'll be leaving everything and everyone I know and moving to a completely different country for nearly a whole year.

I've been seeing things totally different especially within the last month, when I drive home late at night I think to myself, "in a month's time I won't be able to drive on this road anymore" or when I sit at home I think, "I won't have the luxuries of home in a few weeks time" and it makes me really sad. This is really bad especially when I'm with my girlfriend, friends or family, I start to think of how it would be not being able to see them for such a long period of time, even though my girlfriend and family plan on visiting me when I'm in Japan. All of a sudden I don't take things for granted anymore and I cherish and enjoy every moment I spend with them, especially my dog Lewis since I won't be able to explain to him that I'll be leaving and that I won't see him for nearly a year and he won't understand when I don't come home anymore. Times like these make it really hard for me and is probably one of the lowest points I have to go through prior to this trip.

On the other hand there are times where I feel really excited that I get to be living in another country and that it's an experience that few get to go through and that I might not have another chance of doing this ever again in my life. I started getting excited when I first got to the meeting and saw all my friends who are doing ICS and are going to live in Japan also because we will be all we have while we're over there and its been a while since we last saw each other. I also get excited when I start thinking of what to pack, or what I'll need to bring to survive living away from home for such a long period of time, like today when I went to DFO at Homebush to look for a backpack to use, I ended up getting the Oakley Icon 3.0 backpack which also has a laptop compartment so it saves me from carrying a separate laptop bag. Things like this start to gee me up, another thing is looking at BMX bikes since a bicycle will be my main form of transport I can justify spending a bit more on a BMX bike while in Japan than here at home since I'll be using it a lot more to get around on.

As you can see I've been going through a see-saw of emotions lately but in the end I guess nothing is easy and life has its ups and downs and there's nothing I can do about it. So back to the meeting, we were all handed an A4 sized envelop containing all the information we need about our Host University, flights and other essential information.
ICS package

Opening it up and here's what we pretty much get inside, Gifu University's package is apparently one of the better ones since it's nicely presented in a printed sleeve and provides a better map as well.
ICS Package Contents

My certificate of acceptance. Which means the what I wrote for my application actually worked haha.
Certificate of Acceptance

I also got my Certificate of Eligibility, pretty much if you want to work or study in Japan you have to get one of these and tomorrow I have to hand it into the Japanese Consulate at Martin Place.
Certificate of Eligibility

I also got a 'List of things provided', there are 2 International Student Housings at Gifu University; A and B and since I'm in building B I miss out on getting a cupboard in my room. Not only that but the rooms in building B don't have a shower, only a toilet so there are communal showers instead, it sucks but it's something I have to start getting used to since I plan on spending some time at an onsen.
List of things provided

One of the main reasons for choosing Gifu University is that it's one of the cheapest place to stay at compared to the other universities. With our current exchange rate of $1 AUD = 82 Yen, my monthly rent should come to something about $120AUD and thats including Room Rent, Utility Bill and maybe even Internet which is damn cheap if you ask me since students going to Tokyo Tech would be looking at something 4-5 times more expensive and I live on campus so that saves on travelling costs as well. As you can see here rent is 4,700 Yen which is about $56 AUD so that leaves about $65 for utilities. I also got a letter to give to centrelink because I'm currently receiving Youth Allowance to tell them that I'll be studying overseas so my fortnightly payments will be increased to an amount similar for someone living away from home but I won't be receiving Rent Allowance.

This is a map of Gifu University with all the important places pointed out, my dorm is towards the right of the map, labelled in red. This is apparently a much better map than my friend Bill's map that he got for Kyoto which is about 1/4 the size of mine haha.
Gifu University Map

Last but not least, my flight itinerary. This confirmed that I'll be leaving on the 4th of April (approx 18 days away) so this was a real wake up call to how much time I have left in Australia and how much shit I have to sort out before I leave. Luckily this year we're flying with Qantas so we don't have to stop by Singapore for a few hours like last year's ICS student had to do, from memory I think they had to wait 8 hours at Singapore Airport. Also after the meeting I found out that I'll be flying with about 10 other ICS'ers, those that are going to Yamanashi and another uni too but I forgot. But they get off when we land at Tokyo whereas Holly (my friend who is going to stay at Gifu with me) have to wait at Tokyo for about 3 hours before catching another flight to Nagoya. It doesn't end there, after that we have to catch a taxi from Nagoya Airport to the International House at Gifu University.

We also got a lot of other important info like travel insurance, what NOT to do while in Japan and things we MUST do before we leave. Some of those things included;
-Exchanging your money into yen
-Notifying the bank that you're going to be in Japan for a year so they don't get sus when you start making transactions from Japan.
-Notify Centrelink, this one's easy since UTS staff prepared a letter that we just had to hand in.
-Call the airline to ask for more luggage weight, right now we're only allowed 20kg for check in luggage, hopefully we'll be allowed to carry more.
-LEARN HOW TO COOK: I'm in so much shit for this part hahaha, sure I can cook basic things like bacon and eggs, but I can't live off that for a year. Hopefully Holly is a better cook than I am and that she's willing to cook for me if I clean for her haha, I think that's a fair deal.
-Learn how to ride a bike: DONE DONE DONE! especially with my interested of BMX bikes lately
-Find boxes to put stuff in to send over, I got to start doing this with things such as winter clothes since when I get there it's spring then summer, I miss out on Australia's snow season though!
-Throw a massive going away party, not necessary but why not!
-Go to the doctors to see if you need any vaccinations and I personally need to call the specialist about my wisdom tooth, hopefully I can get them out before I leave in case they get worst while I'm in Japan. Not something I'm looking forward too.

-Finally, STUDY JAPANESE!! we were told that even though we had been studying Japanese for 2 years it still wouldn't prepare us for when we get there. This was a big scare since I wasn't the best in class. I also lack skills in reading Kanji, so I need to start studying again soon because a couple of days after I land I have my placement test to see what class I'll be put into and I really don't want to be put into class A (the beginners class) sure it'll be easy but theres 22.5hrs a week of classes compared to class B where there's only 15.5hrs a week.

I think that's all I can think off since it's late but I'll be updating you guys throughout the week as the clock keeps ticking!

Much love for those that read my blog! please comment though, I feel like I'm talking to myself sometimes.



  1. I'll be the first to comment and say i actually read it and not for the sake of commenting. Interesting how you say stuff like that cause I was thinking it would be easy to go over for a year besides missing people the other little things in life we have here. Does really make you think :P

  2. Hey Stepehn,
    You haven't been to UTS Kendo Friday night training @Sydney Boys High.

    You guys got all the gold medals @Unigame2009! Have a safe trip to Japan - Gifu Pref. Pretty close to Tochigi (Kato Ahhh lives there).

    I have a few buddies in Tokyo if you need assistance. Check Facebook update and you'll see how we go in Sydney.

    Probably Daisuke and I will meet @Niseko next year Feb2010 - ski/snow board, so pls save $$$ and join us.


  3. I'll miss you a million!

  4. ^ thats so sad. :( take care up there buddy.